Welcome to our festival!

The Lewes Chamber Music Festival began its life in the summer of 2012 when 8 musicians were invited by the Festival's founder and violinist, Beatrice Philips to come down to Lewes and perform six concerts of the finest chamber music to local audiences over one weekend. The concerts proved so popular that audiences insisted it happen again the following year. Now in its fifth year, the LCMF has gained itself a reputation for exciting and inspired performances of not just the best-loved pieces in the chamber-music repertoire, but of more obscure works, which have perhaps been unjustly neglected. Two world-premieres have been presented at LCMF, both by young composer Kate Whitely. Programmes over the last couple of years have also featured living composers: Edmund Finnis, Melanie Daiken and Huw Watkins.

The LCMF specifically focuses on bringing a mixture of professional musicians of international repute; those at the start of their career, and several who may still be studying, to perform together - giving performers and audiences a unique musical experience. In a similar way, pieces by lesser-known composers are explored and shared alongside well-loved works, ensuring a sense of discovery for audiences at every concert. The concerts are held in church venues across Lewes, providing a more intimate experience than a formal concert hall. The rare opportunity to hear music performed at such a level outside the big cities of the UK, and in the intimate 'festival' atmosphere makes it an unmissable weekend of concerts for music-lovers! 

Please support LCMF by joining us to celebrate wonderful music over this long weekend in June, in one of England's most historic and picturesque towns!


from the artistic director:

photo: Anna Patarakina

photo: Anna Patarakina

It is amazing to be approaching our SIXTH chamber music festival in Lewes! We certainly would not be in this position if it wasn't for the huge support we have had from local volunteers (and not-so-local volunteers), generous donors and of course the amazing musicians who have performed each year. I must also thank our trustees, and the people of Lewes and beyond and the FRIENDS and PATRONS for being a wonderful and supportive audience.
I have been long fascinated with Robert Schumann and his life not just as a composer but as a writer as well. His detailed accounts of music written from 1830s onward as well as of his contemporary musicians give us an amazing insight into the musical world of that time. To do a fully Schumann-themed Festival any justice we would need ten times as long as LCMF, so our Festival weekend is a tiny, magnified glint into a world full of invention, romance and deep contemplation. In the opening concert we have his very early published work, Papillons (Op.2) and in the Festival Finale, Bengt Forsberg will perform the deeply troubled 'Ghost Variations' which Schumann wrote in the year that he died. In and around this we will have works by his great inspiration, Schubert - and Chopin, who he hailed a 'genius'. Very excitingly on Saturday evening tenor James Gilchrist will join Festival musicians in the late night concert singing lieder by both Robert and Clara Schumann. I'm particularly looking forward also to concert 4, in which all three of Schumann's wildly different, yet equally extraordinary piano trios will be performed back to back by 9 different musicians. Throughout the Festival the programme includes pieces by composer Huw Watkins, punctuating the past with music of today. To hear this music performed on historic instruments with gut strings will be a new experience for most (possibly for him too!).
Our main venue over the years has been St John sub Castro church, by far the largest church in Lewes, with an incredible acoustic for chamber music. This year St John's is undergoing some very exciting renovations which will hopefully mean we are able to return in 2018.  We are so pleased to have All Saints as our main home this year - it's intimate atmosphere and historic feel makes it the perfect setting for the Romantic offerings of Schumann and friends! We are ambitiously importing three extremely special pianos made by renowned piano manufacturer Paul McNulty. These instruments are newly made fortepianos modelled on pianos built and played at the time that Schumann, Chopin and Schubert were writing. It is such an honour to have the chance to perform with these instruments - I cannot wait! Paul and his wife, pianist Viviana Sofronitsky, will be giving a presentation introducing the instruments on Saturday 24th afternoon, following the lunchtime concert (concert 3).
The unique and intimate feeling one gets at LCMF is thanks to the extraordinary group of musicians, whose desire to share the music so closely with audiences and colleagues makes the concerts extremely special. This year will be no exception, and once again, thanks to the Cavatina Trust, tickets for those under 26 years old are free of charge throughout the weekend. Tell your friends, and help us break our audience record in 2017! 

beatrice philips